Final phase of Ethiopian troop pullout underway

Ethiopia said the final phase of Ethiopia's troop pullout from neighbouring Somalia is underway. Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 to rescue an embattled transitional administration and oust the Islamic Courts Union.


REUTERS - A convoy of trucks loaded with Ethiopian soldiers, mattresses and other equipment was seen leaving Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Friday, witnesses said.

Ethiopian soldiers have been propping up Somalia's Western-backed government for the past two years, but say they will withdraw in the next few days -- potentially leaving a dangerous power vacuum in the Horn of Africa nation.

It was not immediately clear whether the troop movement was the start of a withdrawal, or a deployment of soldiers elsewhere in the country where they are fighting Islamist insurgents.

Ethiopian military officials in Mogadishu were not immediately available for comment.

"We have seen Ethiopian troops moving to Afgoye from Mogadishu," said resident Omar Abdi Nur, referring to a town 30 km (19 miles) southwest of the capital.

"Their vehicles were carrying mainly equipment and soldiers. Nothing happened and they passed safely," he said, adding that the main road from the capital to Afgoye had been closed to other traffic this morning.

While there are frequent Ethiopian troops movements in and around the capital, residents said the soldiers did not usually move with items such as mattresses and cooking equipment.

"I have seen 28 Ethiopian vehicles entering Afgoye town, said Afgoye resident Husein Moalim. "Some soldiers were walking on high alert and others were on the vehicles."

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